Chaperone networking facilitates protein targeting to the bacterial cytoplasmic membrane

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014 Aug;1843(8):1442-56. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2013.11.007. Epub 2013 Nov 21.


Nascent polypeptides emerging from the ribosome are assisted by a pool of molecular chaperones and targeting factors, which enable them to efficiently partition as cytosolic, integral membrane or exported proteins. Extensive genetic and biochemical analyses have significantly expanded our knowledge of chaperone tasking throughout this process. In bacteria, it is known that the folding of newly-synthesized cytosolic proteins is mainly orchestrated by three highly conserved molecular chaperones, namely Trigger Factor (TF), DnaK (HSP70) and GroEL (HSP60). Yet, it has been reported that these major chaperones are strongly involved in protein translocation pathways as well. This review describes such essential molecular chaperone functions, with emphasis on both the biogenesis of inner membrane proteins and the post-translational targeting of presecretory proteins to the Sec and the twin-arginine translocation (Tat) pathways. Critical interplay between TF, DnaK, GroEL and other molecular chaperones and targeting factors, including SecB, SecA, the signal recognition particle (SRP) and the redox enzyme maturation proteins (REMPs) is also discussed. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Protein trafficking and secretion in bacteria. Guest Editors: Anastassios Economou and Ross Dalbey.

Keywords: DnaJ/Hsp40; DnaK/Hsp70; GroEL/Hsp60; Protein targeting pathway; SecA–SecB; Trigger Factor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Chaperonin 60 / metabolism
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • Molecular Chaperones / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Protein Transport*
  • Signal Recognition Particle / metabolism


  • Chaperonin 60
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Signal Recognition Particle